Scottish Transport Statistics No 30: 2011 Edition


1. Introduction

1.1 This chapter provides information on injury road accidents which were reported to the police, such as the number and severity of accidents, the police force area in which the accidents occurred, the types of vehicle involved, the number and severity of casualties resulting from the accidents, and the costs of injury and non-injury accidents.

2. Main Points


2.1 There were 10,293 injury road accidents reported in 2010, 1,262 (11%) fewer than 2009. The number of reported accidents fell in most of the past ten years, and in 2010 was 32% lower than in 2000. The reported number of accidents in which someone was seriously injured, but no-one died fell by 14% to 1,708 in 2010). There were 189 fatal accidents in 2010 : 7 (4%) less than in 2009 (196), and the lowest figure since the current records began in 1970. The number of reported slight accidents (8,396) was 966 (10%) fewer than the previous year (9,362) and the lowest number since records began. (Table 6.1)

2.2 In 2010, under two-fifths of all reported injury road accidents (3,951: 38%) were on non-built up roads (speed limit of more than 40 m.p.h. - see paragraph 3.8). However, such roads accounted for a higher proportion of fatal accidents (133: 70%), perhaps because speeds tend to be higher on non-built up roads than on built up roads. There was a larger reduction in accidents on non-built up roads (down by 13%) than built up roads (9% fewer). (Table 6.1)

2.3 The trends in the number of injury road accidents reported between 2000 and 2010 varied between the Police Force areas across Scotland, ranging from an 11% fall (Grampian) to a 38% fall (Strathclyde). The figures for an area may fluctuate from year to year, although the trend appears to be downwards. (Table 6.2)

2.4 There were 17,239 vehicles involved in reported injury road accidents in 2010. Three-quarters of them were cars (12,805: 74%); motorcycles were the next vehicle type most often involved in accidents (859: 5%). Between 2000 and 2010, the number of vehicles involved in accidents fell by 33%. The extent of the changes varied between the main vehicle types (those with at least 1,000 in at least one year in the period), from a fall of 45% for bus/coach vehicles to 26% for motorcycles. (Table 6.3)

2.5 208 people were killed in road accidents in 2010, 8 (4%) less than the previous year and the lowest since current records began more than 50 years ago. (Table 6.4)


2.6 There were 1,964 people recorded as seriously injured in road accidents in 2010, 322 (14%) less than in 2009, and the lowest figure since records of the numbers of serious injuries began in 1950. 11,162 people were recorded as slightly injured in 2010, 1,379 (11%) fewer than in 2009, and the lowest number since 1950. There were a total of 13,334 casualties in 2010, 1,709 (11%) lower than in 2009. (Table 6.4)

2.7 There were 2,172 people killed or seriously injured in road accidents in 2010 - 55% below the 1994-98 annual average level of 4,838, and a greater reduction than the 2010 target of a 40% fall. (Table 6.4)

Child casualties

2.8 There were 1,376 reported child casualties in 2010, representing about 10% of the total number of casualties of all ages. There were 4 child fatalities, 223 children were seriously injured, and 1,149 were classified as slightly injured. There was one less child fatality than 2009 and the number of child serious casualties fell by 30 (12%). Slight casualties were down by 66 or 5%. (Table 6.4)

2.9 A total of 227 children were reported killed or seriously injured in road accidents in 2010: 73% fewer than the annual average for 1994-98 and a greater reduction than the 2010 target of a 50% fall. (Table 6.4)

2.10 In the context of the total volume of traffic on the roads in Scotland, the 11,162 people who were recorded as slightly injured in 2010 represented 25.67 casualties per 100 million vehicle-kilometres. This was 45% below the overall slight casualty rate for the baseline 1994-98 period, and so a greater reduction than the 2010 target of a 10% fall, due to the combination of a reduction in the number of slight casualties and an increase in the volume of traffic. (Table 6.4)

Casualty Rates & Costs

2.11 Table 6.5 provides road casualty rates per thousand population by age group and mode of transport. Overall, there were 2.55 casualties per thousand population in 2010. The casualty rate for children (0-15 years) was 1.51 per thousand population. However, the child pedestrian casualty rate (0.71 per thousand population) was almost double the pedestrian casualty rate for all ages. The young persons' (16-24 years) casualty rate in 2010 was 4.92 per thousand population, almost twice the rate for all ages. The young persons' casualty rate in cars (3.50 per thousand population) was almost double the rate for adults aged 25-59 (which was 1.83 per thousand population). The 16-24 age group also had higher pedestrian and motor cycle casualty rates than older people. (Table 6.5)

2.12 The cost of all road accidents (including damage only non-injury accidents) in 2010 is estimated at £1,151 million at 2009 prices. (Table 6.6)

3. Notes and Definitions

3.1 Fatal injury: an injury which causes death less than 30 days after the accident;

3.2 Fatal accident: an accident in which at least one person is fatally injured;

3.3 Serious injury: an injury which does not cause death less than 30 days after the accident, and which is in one (or more) of the following categories:

(a) an injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an in-patient

or (b) any of the following injuries (whether or not the person is detained in hospital): fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, severe cuts and lacerations, severe general shock requiring treatment

or (c) any injury causing death 30 or more days after the accident;

3.4 Serious accident: an accident in which at least one person is seriously injured, but no-one suffers a fatal injury;

3.5 Slight injury: an injury which is neither fatal nor serious - for example, a sprain, bruise, or cut which is not judged to be severe, or slight shock requiring roadside attention;

3.6 Slight accident: an accident in which at least one person suffers slight injuries, but no-one is seriously injured, or fatally injured.

3.7 It follows that whether some injuries are classified as serious or as slight could depend upon hospitals' admission policies, or upon other administrative practices, and therefore changes in the numbers of injuries of these two types could result from changes in admissions policies or other administrative practices.

3.8 Built-up roads: accidents which occur on built-up roads are those which occur on roads which have speed limits of up to 40 miles per hour (ignoring temporary speed limits on roads for which the normal speed limit is over 40 mph). Therefore, an accident on a motorway in an urban area would not be counted as occurring on a built-up road, because the speed limit on the motorway is 70 mph. An accident on a stretch of motorway with a temporary speed limit of 30 mph would not be counted as occurring on a built-up road, because the normal speed limit is 70 mph.

3.9 Children: people under 16 years old.

3.10 Pedestrians: includes people riding toy cycles on the footway; people pushing or pulling bicycles or other vehicles or operating pedestrian-controlled vehicles, those leading or herding animals, occupants of prams or wheelchairs, and people who alight from vehicles and are subsequently injured.

3.11 Estimated Accident Costs: these are intended to encompass all aspects of the costs of casualties including both the human cost and the direct economic cost. The human cost covers an amount to reflect the pain, grief and suffering to the casualty, relatives and friends, and, for fatal casualties, the intrinsic loss of enjoyment of life over and above the consumption of goods and services. The economic cost covers loss of output due to injury and medical costs. The cost of an accident also includes:

i the cost of damage to vehicles and property; and

ii the cost of police and insurance administration.

Also estimated are the number of damage only accidents (around 14 times the number of injury accidents) and their average costs.

3.12 The targets for reducing road accident casualties by the year 2010

These targets were set in 2000 by the UK Government, the then Scottish Executive and the National Assembly for Wales as part of the road safety strategy. The targets, are based on the annual average casualty levels over the period 1994 to 1998, and are for a:

  • a 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents.
  • a 50% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured; and
  • a 10% reduction in the slight casualty rate, expressed as the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.

These GB targets will be reviewed in the DfT's forthcoming GB Road Safety Strategy. In addition the Scottish Road Safety Framework was published earlier this year and includes targets covering 2010: 2020.

Scotland specific 2020 Targets

Scotland's Road Safety Framework was launched in June 2009. It set out the vision for road safety in Scotland, the main priorities and issues and included Scotland-specific targets and milestones which will be adopted from 2010.


2015 milestone % reduction

2020 target % reduction

People killed



People seriously injured



Children (aged < 16) killed



Children (aged < 16) seriously injured



Each reduction target will be assessed against the 2004/08 average. In addition to the targets a 10% reduction target in the slight casualty rate will continue to be adopted.

The 4 main targets differ to previous targets in that deaths have been separated out from serious injuries as, in recent years, trends have been different - serious injuries falling steadily but deaths declining at a lower rate.

To illustrate the reductions necessary the following table show the level of casualties inferred by the 2015 milestones and 2020 targets above.

The targets are deliberately challenging, particularly for child deaths as Scotland's record for child deaths is proportionately worse than that of England and Wales. The (child fatality) target itself will be monitored using a 3 year rolling average due to the small numbers involved.

4. Sources

4.1 The statistics were compiled from returns made by police forces, which cover all accidents in which a vehicle is involved that occur on roads (including footways) and result in personal injury, if they become known to the police. The vehicle need not be moving, and need not be in collision - for example, the returns include accidents involving people alighting from buses. Very few, if any, fatal accidents do not become known to the police. However, there could be many non-fatal injury accidents which are not reported by the public to the police, and so are not counted in these statistics. Reported Road Casualties Scotland (see paragraph 5.1) provides more information on this matter.

4.2 Damage only accidents are not included in the above definition, and so the road accident statistical returns do not cover damage only accidents. It is thought that the number of damage only accidents is about fourteen times the number of reported injury road accidents.

5. Further Information

5.1 For more detailed statistics of injury road accidents and a full description of the terms used see Reported Road Casualties Scotland and also the Key Reported Road Casualty Statistics Statistical Bulletin. The figures they contain may differ slightly from those published here due to late returns and amendments made to the database in the periods between the finalisation of the statistics for the purpose of the publications.

5.2 Information about the numbers of road accidents in Great Britain is given in the annual DfT publications, Reported Road Casualties Great Britain Annual Report and Transport Statistics Great Britain.

5.3 For further information on road accident statistics contact Andrew Knight of the Transport Scotland Transport Statistics Branch (tel: 0131 244 7256).